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Chemical industry must collaborate and be innovative, says GPCA


Muscat, Dec 1 - The 13th Annual Forum of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) opened late last week with a strong appeal for collaboration and innovation in the chemical industry to help meet today’s global challenges. “Trade wars, currency challenges and the commoditisation of products have led the chemical industry to the crossroads we are at today. We must acknowledge the key role the GCC plays in meeting global demand and utilise our strong regional network, acknowledge best practices from across the globe and focus our efforts on capitalising on the numerous innovation opportunities that the move towards a circular economy will bring,” said Shaikh Mohammed al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Minister of Oil in his address to more than 2,100 delegates.

Strong and visionary CEO leadership is essential for implementing the circular economy and reaching new levels of sustainable economic growth. By applying these principles, companies can design out waste, increase resource productivity and decouple growth from natural resource consumption, the minister said.

The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) was established in 2006 to represent the downstream hydrocarbon industry in the Arabian Gulf. Today, the association voices the common interests of more than 250 member companies from the chemical and allied industries, accounting for over 95 per cent of chemical output in the GCC. The industry makes up the second largest manufacturing sector in the region, producing over $108 billion worth of products every year.

Citing the wave of innovation of ‘Industry 4.0’, the fourth industrial revolution enabled by digital and physical technologies, the Bahraini official urged industry leaders to embrace technology with cautious optimism, empower existing teams and future professionals keeping issues such as security and operation excellence at the forefront.

His speech mirrored the start of proceedings on day one, which included a glimpse into the future, and encouraged regional chemical industry professionals to leverage the full potential of data and circular economy, to increase efficiencies and foster further innovation.

Introducing the Forum was Yousef al Benyan, Vice Chairman and CEO, SABIC and Chairman, GPCA, who delivered the welcome address. “Global challenges to transformation are real. In order to meet these, regional and global chemical industry players need to focus their efforts on portfolio enhancement, competitiveness and growth measures. To remain relevant in this transforming value chain, we must collaborate through value-creating and win-win partnerships. Collaboration with IOCs and NOCs in North America and Asia, R&D investment, customer intimacy, and digitalisation are key to the viability of your business so if you’re not there yet, the time is now,” he said.

Representing one of the world’s fastest growing markets for refining and chemical products, Raghavendra Rao, Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, India, was also among the dignitaries attending the forum and addressing its theme of “Executing Transformation and Investing in Growth”.

Citing strong growth figures, throughout the two-day event, speakers highlighted the need for evolution within the chemical industry bearing in mind the emergence of new technologies, product slates and upgrades in capabilities. They also reiterated the importance of ensuring that the industry’s commitment towards a circular economy remains steadfast and integral to creating economic value, jobs and mitigating environmental impact.

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